In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ancient traditions held during Easter Mass in Oaxaco Mexico testify of Book of Mormon and Christs visit to the Americas

I was reading an old newsletter I had received from Dr. Jerry Ainsworth in regards to his ongoing research for Book of Mormon lands and evidence in Mexico and Mesoamerica. I found this one particularly interesting because of its correlations with 3 Nephi and the visit of the Savior to the American continent. The following was related in regards to Dr. Ainsworth and his companion Estaban while in Mesoamerica.

After taveling in Mesoamerica for many years, I was in Oaxaca one Easter, and myself and Esteban were observing the public celebration in the town square of the city of Oaxaca. It is the same kind of celebration I have seen in the highlands of Mexico, San Cristobal de las Casas, and elsewhere. People by the thousands have wooden noise makers, called matracas, they use for this celebration. These are small noise makers that we would equate with New Year's celebration and consists of a small wood stick, that has another part at the top, so when it is whirled in a circle, a clacking sound is made.

Duing this celebration, I turned to Esteban and said, "I believe when I return to this place next year, I am going to bring some plastic matracas with me, and we can give them as gifts." He said, "Don't do it, as the people would only accept such a gift, or use it, if it was made of wood." I then asked why, and he told me the following story.

This celebration of the wooden matracas, is done in remembrance of the Catholic Easter mass in these parts of Mexico. As part of the Easter mass the priest walks down the isle with two sticks, beating them together, (making a wooden noise). When asked why he did this, the priest said, "I don't know. It was part of the Maya celebration that they had us incorporate into the mass - many many years ago. If you want to know why, you will have to ask one of the Maya Elders."

So Esteban then went to some of the older and influencial Maya Elders, and asked them why this was done, the beating of the wooden sticks during Easter mass, and what the significance was. The Maya then explained, that it was done in remembrance of a time period, which goes back before anyone can remember - when there were three days of darkness among the people - in which no fire would burn and there was no light. Since people still had to cook, eat, and conduct business, each person would carry two sticks with them, and strike them together, as they walked, making a sound, so as not to bump into other people.

If one considers that evidence, then there is evidence of the three days of darkness spoken of in 3rd Nephi previous to the coming of the Savior among people of the American continent. In 3rd Nephi 8:20-23 we can read of this same event,

20 And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness;

21 And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;

22 And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

23 And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them.

The evidences are their to be found if we look for them and have a basic understanding of the Book of Mormon. As we find these evidences it will help in our understanding not only the ancient traditions but also the Book of Mormon.

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